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Reflections on Martha

photo David Russell/The Martha Stewart Show

photo David Russell/The Martha Stewart Show

Probably because the host of the show is larger than life, my appearance to talk about natural lawn care on national television Tuesday brought more questions about personality than it did compost and fertilizers.

And, so, for all of you who are asking me “What was Martha like?” I’ll take a moment to dish on my experience on the Martha Stewart Show, which airs daily at 10 a.m. on the Hallmark Channel, with reruns at various other times throughout the day.

First off, the woman is flat-out amazing, if for nothing more than all the facts and details she manages to keep in her head on a constant basis. As someone who considers himself a busy person, I was blown away by how much Martha juggles — and how much she is involved with on a hands-on basis. Sure, she delegates to a cast of hundreds at her Manhattan studio, but she was also clearly hands on — whether it be checking on recipes in the kitchen, or Halloween decorations back stage, or asking probing, earnest questions about humic acids in soils.

I was also struck by her sense of humor and quick wit, whether on camera with Seth Myers, or between our segments when she talked me into visiting her home to check out her horse fields in New York. She clearly loves to laugh.

The studio itself was vast and everything you see on television actually works, from the kitchen stoves and ovens, to the faucets. The staff was overwhelmingly courteous and professional; I can tell you from first-hand experience that is not always the case at the upper echelon of media production companies.

I was asked a lot, too, about my own nerves in the situation. I can honestly say that I didn’t have the heart-pounding-out-of-my-chest jitters that I might have had years ago. Live television is fun, most especially because it is what it is and it’s over when it’s over, for better or worse. Taped television, on the other hand, allows for takes and retakes, editing and rethinking, voiceovers. All sorts of things that take copious amounts of time.

Being there was somewhat stressful, though, only because we tried to convey a lot of fairly complex information in a brief period of time in a way that was accurate, visually compelling and fun. Talking about soil organisms in sound bites is really quite difficult; trying to pull off a lawn makeover when a producer is flashing a card that says “MOVE IT ALONG” does increase one’s blood pressure at least momentarily.

Ultimately, I graded myself about a “C+” on the organic lawn care segment and maybe a “B” on sod-top gardening. The second segment wasn’t as complicated and, by then, I felt like I was in more of a rhythm with Martha, who had a penchant for adlibbing questions. That, ultimately, is what makes her great. She’s not afraid to move away from the script.

Time constraints forced us to eliminate the discussion of the importance of soil tests, or the best techniques for natural weed control. We had a great tool from Fiskars that we planned to show, as well as the Fiesta weed control that we’ve blogged about here several times. But maybe we’ll talk about those things next time if Martha does, in fact, invite me back as she said she would.

Later in the day I was also thoroughly impressed by Martha’s farm in New York, where we stopped to check out her organic lawns and fields. Clearly leading by example, she has forsaken all chemical weed killers. She has fully embraced clover as what it should be — a component of all lawns and fields. She has plenty of help from her staff there, too, but once again it was clear that Martha was in charge.

So, all in all, I can’t offer anything but positive reviews of my first full-day experience involved with the cultural phenomenon known as Martha Stewart. WE owe her and the producers a great thanks for helping to spread the word about organics; I’m thrilled she’s in our corner.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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  • Lynn

    Well, you were great on Martha! Very smooth, got the point across and seemed very relaxed. I personally think the show tries to fit in way too many things without expanding on each. I’d love to see a whole show on organic gardening.

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